UNH Graduate Student in Education Named Finalist for National High School Principal of the Year

Thursday, August 2, 2012
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David Ryan

David Ryan, principal of Nashua High School North and a graduate student in the University of New Hampshire’s education specialist degree program in administration, has been named a finalist for national high school principal of the year for the 2013 MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals National Principals of the Year award.

Ryan, who was named the 2102 New Hampshire Secondary Principal of the Year by the New Hampshire Association of School Principals, is one of only three high school principals in the nation nominated for the prestigious national award.

“Lifelong learning is a tenet in just about every school district's mission statement. School leaders must model this expectation for learning by continually seeking ways to experience new ideas, establish networks of professional colleagues, and understand the complexity of teaching and learning,” Ryan said.

“UNH has provided for me a flexible path to information and networks I need to help our teachers and students succeed, and my own growth as a person and professional is a result of the relationships established through advanced graduate study with professors and staff in the school of education,” he said.

Ryan’s graduate research at UNH is focused on the history of school leadership development programs within New Hampshire school districts and the impact of these professional development experiences on overall school improvement. “I know UNH is very interested in helping school districts with developing their leaders, and I am eager to continue this work as we move forward,” Ryan said.

Todd DeMitchell, professor of education at the University of New Hampshire and one of Ryan’s graduate program professors, called Ryan an educational leader of note and said that this recognition is well deserved.

"It is quite an honor to first be acknowledged by one's peers in your state for your contributions and your dedication to your students and community, and then to rise to the final round of three for national recognition puts an exclamation point on that honor. David Ryan exemplifies the hearty work ethic, the myriad skills, and the professional ethics that characterize our best educational leaders," DeMitchell said.

The winner will be announced in September 2012 during the Principals' Institute for State Principals of the Year in Washington, D.C. The search for the national principal of the year began in early 2012 as each state principals' association selected its state principal of the year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists.

Ryan will receive a $1,500 grant for being named a finalist. If he is named the national award winner, he will receive an additional grant of $3,500. The grants are used to promote the advancement of learning opportunities for students or other related investments such as capital improvements, the purchase of technology-related equipment, or funding specific educational programs.

“During David’s tenure, Nashua North has seen the focus change from the teacher teaching, to the student learning,” said Keith Richard, an assistant principal at Nashua North. “He has worked hard to ensure that all Nashua North students are given an opportunity to the best education.” When he took over the urban school just two years after it opened, Ryan was excited to work with the committed staff. He established high expectations, carefully sought teacher buy-in, and created a culture that underscores shared ownership and collaboration. By establishing a strong foundation and making changes that directly affect student learning, Nashua North reduced its failure rate from 10.4 percent in 2007-08 to 6.5 percent in 2010-11.

Part of the school’s success has been largely due to the foundation set for incoming freshmen. Ryan introduced visits to local middle schools, created a freshman open house event, and worked with colleagues to make the first day of school “freshmen only.” A freshman academy also provides students the personalization that is critical to a smooth transition to high school.

Under Ryan’s leadership and direction, student learning has improved exponentially through better instruction—and Nashua North has become a place that all students are proud to attend.

Prior to joining Nashua High School North in 2006 as principal, Ryan served as an assistant principal at Manchester High School Central, worked as an advancement officer at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, and taught at St. Joseph Regional Junior High School in Manchester and Daniel Webster College in Nashua.

Originally published by:

UNH Today

Written by Lori Wright, UNH Media Relations